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Full text of "NightRider"

396

had said that first night, a long time back now,- at the Chris-
tian house—and Mr. Munn could remember his face and his
very voice as he had said it—" when the time comes/' The
time had come. He had stumbled upon it that morning in
the deserted office, unexpectedly as on a stone in a familiar
path. He had lifted the rifle, clumsily in his bandaged,
unaccustomed hands, and over there in the courthouse yard,
in the clear daylight, the man had fallen.

He had never guessed that strength in himself. It had lain
hidden all the years of his life, until the time came. But
now he could not find in himself another strength in which
he had lived, so he had thought, always.

Later, thinking back on those things, Mr. Munn discovered
that his bitterness was gone. If he should see Professor Ball,
he himself, he decided, would be the one to feel guilty and
ashamed, as though he had committed the wrong. If he
should be taken, or if he should give himself up, then Pro-
fessor Ball, he was sure, would speak. He had a momentary
vision of Professor Ball's face as it would be if they should
meet, the face thin and arid and contorted in its pain.
Involuntarily, shudderingly, he closed his eyes as against the
actual sight, as one does at the obscenity of suffering.

His discovery, he determined, if it was a discovery, had
solved nothing for him. He sank back, as before, into the
privacy of that world screened from all the world outside by
the green leaves of the bluff or the boards of the little lean-to
room. Into that privacy the thought of what he had been or
what he might become filtered only thinly, sourcelessly, like
light into a submarine depth.

Day after day, there would be nothing to obtrude upon
him on the bluffside. Only once, late one afternoon, Sylvestus
had come up the bluff and had squatted there on his heels in
the pressed-down grass. The sweat stained darkly his blue
shirt, and the sleeves stuck to his arms. When he took his
hat off, the thick hair was matted clammily on his head, with
a line pressed into it where the band of the hat had been,
"Hit's cool up here," he said, "but today, hit was a scorcher